Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
The semester has been off to a disastrous start at the University of Maryland. After a summer of scandals surrounding the death of Jordan McNair and the culture of our football program, the students of this university were expecting more from our administration. At least, I was.
What headlines did we get instead? “A UMD student found a nail head in his dining hall salad,” and “‘It’s hot as shit’: UMD students in dorms without AC have taken to sleeping in lounges” — neither of which were all that groundbreaking.
Dining Services has an online “Dining Hall Comment Wall” where anyone can post questions and concerns regarding dining hall services. There are many posts asking for better fruit and vegetable options, friendlier service and a post about finding a bug in a salad purchased from a Dining Services cafe. And last fall, eight students said that they got food poisoning from the South Campus Dining Hall after they ate together. Clearly, these dining pitfalls are not new or shocking.
The same can be said for dorms without air conditioning. There are eight dorms on this campus — housing thousands of students — that don’t have air conditioning. So students are left to use their own fans instead (or use the fans that Resident Life so graciously gives them). While lack of air conditioning has always been unfortunate, the progression of global warming has made the issue even more significant.
During the first week of classes, College Park and surrounding areas surpassed a heat index of 105 with temperatures in the high 90s. Many students in dorms without AC have complained about not being able to sleep, study or do anything productive in their rooms. Rising temperatures and heat waves have been an issue since my first year at this university, and likely before that.
These issues cause many students to feel like they aren’t being cared for by the higher-ups of this university. I feel like my department, my college and other offices on the campus care about me — but when I think about the administrative forces who control our housing, dining and more on the campus, there is a huge disconnect.
Problems such as no AC or finding gross things in our food are minor to the administration — let the students complain among themselves, maybe even in The Diamondback, but don’t worry, it’ll blow over in a couple of weeks.
Then again, perhaps it won’t. These minor issues that come up annually are now following on the heels of deaths that are inseparable from the current conditions and culture of this campus. They add up, and they will keep adding up until they start showing in application rates, funding and overall reputation. Hopefully, it doesn’t get that far before the administration realizes it needs to do more to show students they matter.
Liyanga de Silva is a junior English major. She can be reached at email@example.com.